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27
votes
3answers
7k views

What is the difference between implicit and explicit time dependence e.g. $\frac{\partial \rho}{\partial t}$ and $\frac{d \rho} {dt}$?

What is the difference between implicit and explicit time dependence e.g. $\frac{\partial \rho}{\partial t}$ and $\frac{d \rho} {dt}$? I know one is a partial derivative and the other is a total ...
23
votes
2answers
1k views

Symbols of derivatives

What is the exact use of the symbols $\partial$, $\delta$ and $\mathrm{d}$ in derivatives in physics? How are they different and when are they used? It would be nice to get that settled once and for ...
16
votes
2answers
8k views

Difference between $\Delta$, $d$ and $\delta$

I have read the thread regarding 'the difference between the operators between $\delta$ and $d$', but it does not answer my question. I am confused about the notation for change in Physics. In ...
6
votes
7answers
1k views

Physical intuition for higher order derivatives

Could somebody give me an intuitive physical interpretation of higher order derivatives (from 2 and so on), that is not related to position - velocity - acceleration - jerk - etc?
16
votes
2answers
572 views

Lagrangian Mechanics - Commutativity Rule $\frac{d}{dt}\delta q=\delta \frac{dq}{dt} $

I am reading about Lagrangian mechanics. At some point the difference between the temporal derivative of a variation and variation of the temporal derivative is discussed. The fact that the two are ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

Derivative of the product of operators and Derivative of exponential

I'm asked to show that $$\frac{d(\hat{A}\hat{B})}{d\lambda} ~=~ \frac{d\hat{A}}{d\lambda}\hat{B} + \hat{A}\frac{d\hat{b}}{d\lambda}$$ With $\lambda$ a continuous parameter. Should I use the ...
1
vote
4answers
239 views

Rotation systems. Problem interpreting an equation

In this equation: $$ \mathbf a_i\overset{\rm def}{=}\left(\frac{d^2\mathbf r}{dt^2}\right)_i=\left(\frac{d\mathbf v}{dt}\right)_i=\left[\left(\frac{d}{dt}\right)_r+\boldsymbol\Omega\times\right]\left[...
31
votes
4answers
7k views

What is the physical meaning of the connection and the curvature tensor?

Regarding general relativity: What is the physical meaning of the Christoffel symbol ($\Gamma^i_{\ jk}$)? What are the (preferably physical) differences between the Riemann curvature tensor ($R^i_{\ ...
29
votes
7answers
15k views

Laplace operator's interpretation

What is your interpretation of Laplace operator? When evaluating Laplacian of some scalar field at a given point one can get a value. What does this value tell us about the field or it's behaviour in ...
8
votes
4answers
1k views

Conserved quantities and total derivatives?

I am having a bit of a crisis in understanding of the physical meanings of total derivatives. When a quantity $\rho$ (be it a vector or a scalar) is said to be conserved, then (mathematically) $$\...
7
votes
2answers
4k views

Derivatives of operators

How do derivatives of operators work? Do they act on the terms in the derivative or do they just get "added to the tail"? Is there a conceptual way to understand this? For example: say you had the ...
1
vote
4answers
177 views

What is the physical significance of curl $\nabla\times\boldsymbol{V}$?

What is the physical significance of curl $$\nabla\times\boldsymbol{V}~?$$ I mean I read 'curl V represents the rotation of the vector $V$. My question what is it about the term $\nabla\times\...
6
votes
5answers
1k views

What is the meaning of following expression $C=\frac{\delta Q}{dT}$ mathematically?

Our professor raised the following question during our lecture in Statistical Physics (even so it's related to Thermodynamics): Many text books (even Wikipedia) writes wrong expressions (from ...
1
vote
5answers
1k views

What is divergence?

What is divergence? I was learning about Maxwells equations and don't understand the divergence part of it. Can someone give an intuition of what divergence is in relation to maxwells equation. To ...
1
vote
1answer
2k views

What is the common difference between partial time derivative and ordinary time derivative? [duplicate]

What is difference between partial and ordinary time derivative? for example: what is difference between $\frac {\partial v}{\partial t}$ and $\frac {dv}{dt}$? where the $v$ is velocity.
3
votes
1answer
734 views

Time evolution in quantum mechanics

We know that an operator A in quantum mechanics has time evolution given by Heisenberg equation: $$ \frac{i}{\hbar}[H,A]+\frac{\partial A}{\partial t}=\frac{d A}{d t} $$ Can we derive from this ...
2
votes
1answer
756 views

Total and partial derivatives in thermodynamics and Maxwell relations

Consider the expression $$dS=\left(\frac{\partial S}{\partial T}\right)_VdT+\left(\frac{\partial S}{\partial V}\right)_TdV$$ I'm trying to understand how to derive an expression for $\left( \frac{\...
4
votes
2answers
146 views

Why is the covariant derivative of the determinant of the metric zero?

This question, metric determinant and its partial and covariant derivative, seems to indicate $$\nabla_a \sqrt{g}=0.$$ Why is this the case? I've always learned that $$\nabla_a f= \partial_a f,$$ ...
1
vote
1answer
46 views

Is difference in wave number always small?

Over the last few days I have been looking at a derivation of group velocity. The derivation is the one shown in this question Deriving group velocity. I have seen this derivation in many places, and ...
13
votes
1answer
937 views

Is there a “covariant derivative” for conformal transformation?

A primary field is defined by its behavior under a conformal transformation $x\rightarrow x'(x)$: $$\phi(x)\rightarrow\phi'(x')=\left|\frac{\partial x'}{\partial x}\right|^{-h}\phi(x)$$ It's fairly ...
6
votes
1answer
317 views

Physical intuition/interpretation of fractional derivatives/integrals?

Oftentimes, when the derivative and integral operations are introduced within the realm of physics, we are taught some physical interpretation of them: Velocity is the derivative of position ...
3
votes
1answer
122 views

Why is the gauge potential $A_{\mu}$ in the Lie algebra of the gauge group $G$?

If we have a general gauge group whose action is $$ \Phi(x) \rightarrow g(x)\Phi(x), $$ with $g\in G$. Then introducing the gauge covariant derivative $$ D_{\mu}\Phi(x) = (\partial_{\mu}+A_{\mu})\...
44
votes
3answers
4k views
-1
votes
1answer
82 views

Finding solution to this differential equation

In this paper http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/9506035 equation (3.11) was written as: $$\frac{\partial L}{\partial u}\frac{\partial L}{\partial v} = -1$$ The author then said p.9 that "approximate ...
3
votes
2answers
45 views

Variation of Lagrangian density $\mathcal{L}$ w.r.t $x_\mu$

If a function $f(x(t),y(t))$ has no explicit dependence on the variable $t$, then $\frac{\partial f}{\partial t}=0$. In quantum field theory, the Lagrangian density $\mathcal{L}(\phi,\partial_\mu\phi)...
3
votes
2answers
413 views

Trouble with Landau & Lifshitz

Hello I have a quick question on what I have been reading in Landau & Lifshitz's book on classical mechanics. I am in the very beginning of the book and I am having trouble with his derivation on ...
0
votes
1answer
90 views

How can you have $\frac{DA^\mu}{d\tau}$?

If a covariant derivative is given by: $$D_\nu A^\mu=\partial_\nu A^\mu +\Gamma^\mu_{\nu \lambda} A^{\lambda}$$ Then how does $\frac{DA^\mu}{d\tau}$ make any sense? Since there are no 'differentials' ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

Physics & derivatives written in a weird way

I was always taught that $\frac d {dx} (\ln x) = \frac 1 x$. No derivative had as a result any $dx$ words. In a physics book I encountered something like this (error discussion) [there might be a ...
5
votes
2answers
452 views

A confusion about notation in Goldstein

On treating systems of particles, Goldstein starts with the consideration that whenever there are $k$ particles on a system, the $i$-th one obeys the relation $$\dfrac{d}{dt}{\bf p}_i = {\bf F}_i^{(e)...
4
votes
2answers
600 views

Physical meaning of harmonic function?

In complex numbers, we define a harmonic function as a twice continuously differentiable function such that the Laplace operator acting on it gives zero. Can anybody explain me the physical ...
3
votes
1answer
70 views

Partial derivatives vs total derivatives in thermodynamics

The specific heat of a system is defined as $$C_z = T \left( \frac{\partial S}{\partial T} \right)_{z=\text{const}}$$ Sometimes however, I find the same definition, but with total derivatives ...
3
votes
1answer
439 views

What is a covariant derivative in gauge theory?

I've been studying electroweak theory and you need to keep the Lagrangian covariant by introducing covariant derivatives. What is a covariant derivative? And what does it mean to keep the Lagrangian ...
2
votes
4answers
567 views

Poincare invariant Lagrangians

The Lagrangian density of a Poincare invariant theory should not depend explicitly on the space-time coordinates. Does this mean $$ \partial_\mu \mathcal{L}=0~? $$ If this is the case doesn't the ...
1
vote
2answers
955 views

Time derivative of angular velocity in rotating reference frame

I am going through a section in a textbook regarding the Newton Euler equations for a system of rigid bodies (robotics text). There is a particular line in the derivation I don't understand, I've ...
0
votes
1answer
111 views

Geodesic equation proof confusing me

I was looking through this proof and have no idea where the $u$ comes from. Any help is appreciated. This is from here; I want to know how they got from eqn 5 to eqn 6.
4
votes
3answers
216 views

Is $\dfrac{dx}{dt}$ a fraction or not?

I am new to calculus and during my mathematics class my sir defined $\dfrac{dx}{dt}$ as $$dx/dt=\lim_{t\to t_1}\dfrac{f(t)-f(t_1)}{t-t_1}$$ and my sir made a clear statement that $\dfrac{dx}{dt}$ ...
2
votes
2answers
258 views

How to find Tangential/Radial/Angular Velocity for motion in any curve?

Is the radial velocity responsible only for changing distance between objects and the component perpendicular to it only for change in direction? If so why? Please try to give a different explanation ...
1
vote
1answer
105 views

Trouble understanding Landau & Lifshitz writing about Lagrangians and Galilean Relativity [duplicate]

We have two inertial coordinate systems, $K'$ and $K$. $K$ is moving with infinitesimal velocity ${\epsilon}$ relative to $K'$. Using Galilean relativity we can transform this into $v'=v+{\epsilon}$. ...
1
vote
0answers
53 views

Partial derivatives in Lagrangian formalism [duplicate]

Suppose I have a function $f = xy$. A partial derivative of $f$ with respect to $x$ implies holding $y$ constant: $$ \frac{\partial f}{\partial x} = y $$ Does this mean that in order to evaluate ...
0
votes
3answers
244 views

Curl of a vector field [closed]

What is the physical interpretation of curl of a vector field? Just as divergence implies flux through a surface. I mean if $\vec A$ is a vector field, what does $\left(\nabla \times \vec A \right)$ ...